Three’s a Crowd?

I was thinking about the number 3.

Biblically…

Gideon’s army was whittled down to 300.

Moses had those who worshipped the golden calf killed, 3,000 died.

golden calf
Not the calf the Hebrew people worshipped, but close, really very close.

King Saul took 3,000 men to hunt for David. 

Job had 3,000 camels.

King Solomon wrote 3,000 proverbs.

Samson pulled the pillars down and killed 3000 Philistines. 

Peter and the apostles baptized 3000 on the day of Pentecost.

Jesus had 3 disciples who were especially close: Peter, James and John.

Elijah prayed 3 times for rain.

Jesus prayed 3 times for the cup to pass.

There were 3 on the Mount of Transfiguration: Jesus, Moses and Elijah.

In the parable of the good Samaritan, 3 passed by, one stopped to help.

Jesus was 30 when he launched his ministry.

He was 33 when he died.

Jesus showed the 3 holes to his apostles, his hands and his side.

Peter denied Jesus 3 times. 

There were 3 crosses on Golgotha that day.

Jesus was in the tomb 3 days.

God is 1 but 3: Father, Son, and Spirit. 

Personally…

My parents had 3 sons.

My first date had her mother tag along. 

It took me 3 tries to pass my driver’s test. 

I’ve backed out of the garaged 3 times with the car door open.

I’ve been in 3 automobile accidents, two were bumper bumps, one wasn’t. 

I’ve been to Israel 3 times. 

I’ve done mission trip to 3 countries: Mexico, China, and Haiti.

I’ve climbed Mount Everest 3 times.

 I asked a girl for a date 3 times, she said no 3 times, then she married me.

All of the above 3’s are true except for 3 of them. 

In Conclusion

After careful consideration I’ve determined that I don’t have anything significant to say about the number 3. 

But thanks for reading this blog to the end.

 

 

 

 

A Battle: Colored Corn Starch

It’s not so much the heat, but the humidity. It’s more of a moist heat. 

Where?

Over Memorial Day weekend I attended our church’s Family Camp. It’s nice there, with a beautiful lake and all kinds of fun things to do. We had 30 families with a total of a 140 grandparents, parents, and kids. It was great.

What?

We had our annual “color war.” Teams are organized and given a Dixie cup used to fill and refill with colored powder. The whistle blows and we throw the powder on the other teams. It quickly descended into a free-for-all melee. That means all of them got a free shot at all of me. I left the field covered in blue, orange, yellow, and red. 

It was an epic beatdown. 

IMG_9486
Last year’s epic beatdown. This year was worse!

Result?

It was 90+ degrees with humidity around 114%. I was weak, dizzy, and confused. Then after the color war I was even worse! I ran and chased little kids because I could keep up with them. They chased me back and we laughed. When it was over I limped off in ignominious defeat. 

It was hot and sticky. I was a mess and I was done. 

Dignified?

Forget about it. There is no dignity in being a walking tie-dye shirt. But dignity wasn’t required. It was a time for silliness, for fun, and for interacting with kids and their parents in ways that never happen anywhere else. 

And Jesus?

Well, please don’t be bothered for I mean no disrespect. But I imagine Jesus being out there tossing the powder. I imagine the children running after him with wide eyes and big smiles. I can easily see him having fun, being silly, and making the children laugh. 

To Close

Perhaps I care too much about dignity and what others people think. Decorum and appropriateness are foundational to good character. It’s true. 

But don’t forget to laugh, to play, and be silly. There is an inner child in all of us, there is in me, and every now and then it’s a good thing to let him out to play.

Ours is more of a moist heat.

Shalom

 

Could the Preaching be Better?

I wish I was better at it, but I’m not.

Better At What?

Better at preaching. I’ve been preaching for forty years and still haven’t figured out what people want to hear. I’ve delivered around 3,500 sermons, a number representing Sunday morning and evening sermons, workshops, meetings, seminars, retreats, and special occasions. 

I’ve probably improved over the years, but who knows?

The Comments

Over the last several weeks, with a few weeks to go, I’ve conducted vision groups with my church. Each group has averaged about 15 people with a total of 27 groups. When finished I will have met with about half of the adult congregation. 

I ask each group the same three questions, primarily for their feedback relating to our vision for the future. But one of the questions addresses our worship services, including the sermons. Here are a few of the comments I’ve received about my preaching:

  1. Sermons are too long.
  2. Sermons are too short.
  3. Need sermons that have more heart.
  4. Need sermons that address personal struggles.
  5. Need sermons about coping with culture.
  6. Need sermon series that are topical.
  7. Need sermon series that go through books of the bible.
  8. Need sermons with fire and brimstone.
  9. Need more sermons that step on our toes.
  10. Need sermon series about other beliefs.
  11. Need more lessons about family. 
  12. Need more lessons from your holy land travels.
  13. Need lessons that teach us how to defend our faith.
  14. Need lessons about coping with failure. 
  15. Need lessons that teach us how to live right.
  16. Could the sermon notes be printed each week?
  17. Could you speak louder?
  18. Could you speak softer? 
  19. Could you preach sermons like I used to hear when I was young.
  20. We should not have sermons every week. 

 None of them were critical, negative or unkind. They were just comments.

And…?

Well, I appreciate the feedback. I do. I don’t know what I’m going to do with all of it, but I appreciate it. 

I think they like it that I took the time to ask. In the interest of full disclosure, there’s been many comments about how much the sermons are appreciated.

 I can’t please everyone all of the time. Actually, I can’t please everyone any of the time. Perhaps the goal is to please a majority of the people a majority of the time.

IMG_9486
Maybe if I were more sophisticated, or polished, or better attired? 

In Closing

I preach what the Lord puts on my heart. I preach what comes out of my study, prayers, and mediation. I preach what the Holy Spirit gives me. Is it effective? Is it what people want to hear? I don’t know. I’ve never been very good at figuring out what people want to hear. 

I wish I was better at it, but I’m not.

Shalom

 

It Happened Sunday Night

“Tramp, Tramp, Tramp”

Do you know that song? It was a brutal Civil War marching song written by George F. Root in 1864 and was sung by soldiers as they marched into battle.

However

The tune wasn’t destined to remain a battle song. Nope, a lyricist named Clarence Herbert Woolston borrowed the music, gave it new words, and gave the song new life for generations to come.

Who was Clarence Woolston? He was born in 1856 and died in 1927. He was minister, author and writer of hymns and was Pastor of a Philadelphia church. 

And his song? You probably know it, have sung it, and even grew up with it. Here is a piece of the song he wrote:

“Jesus loves the little children, all the little children of the world, red and yellow black and   white, Jesus loves all the little children of the world.”

Yep

Woolston used the music of a Civil War marching song and transformed it into one of the most beloved songs of all time. Jesus loves the little children. Yep! Here are a couple of verses for you: 

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

“He took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them, and blessed them.” Mk 10:16

For Me

On Sunday night, our church’s Children’s Ministry performed their Easter Musical,

“It’s All Because of Jesus”

Watching sixty kids sing songs of praise was inspiring; they told the old, old story with young voices and fresh hearts. Jesus loves the little children indeed. 

Easter Musical

I cried during the performance, which isn’t at all unusual, but I did. Before they came into the Worship Center to start the performance, I had a moment to pray over them. That prayer was granted. There is just something about watching and hearing children sing about Jesus that melts my heart.

To Close

I get why Jesus loved kids. I understand why he wanted them to have unhindered access. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them.

Sure, kids can be loud, busy and constantly moving, even distracting and disruptive at times. But it’s their hearts. Jesus saw their hearts, and the love of a child comes from the very center of their pure and precious hearts. 

Thank you Mr. Woolston

Your song is a big hit. 

 

Betty: A Force of Life

Betty Davis was a member of my church and her funeral is tomorrow morning. She was a force of life! And she will be missed.

My Top Ten Favorite Things About Betty

  1. She and Ed got married at 16 and ran off to California.
  2. She called him “Cowboy”
  3. Did babysitting for months to buy him the guitar he wanted.
  4. She loved Hallmark movies.
  5. She was a red head.
  6. Made Oreo Cookies and Ice Cream a food group.
  7. Got her hair done every week, until Ed died.
  8. They lost their two sons in 1974 and 1981, but chose to live happy anyway.  
  9. Ed and Betty opened their home and their hearts to everyone all the time.
  10. Her house was a safe haven for many kids, a home filled with joy. 
  11. She loved her Lord, her church, and her family, and everyone was family.

Okay, that’s eleven things. But the list could go on and on. She leaves a legacy of faith, family, and fortune; not the kind that fills your bank account, but the kind that fills your soul. 

Pink lemonade, turkey sandwiches, coconut cream pie, chocolate cream pie, every kind of cookie, cold milk, soft drinks galore, and of course, the Oreos and ice cream. These are only some of the things Betty kept in her home so everyone who came to her home would always find their favorite snack.

To Close

Her funeral service will be packed, probably standing room only. She lived a full and purposeful life. She overcame great adversity and gave great advantage to so many others. She was happy.

Betty Louise Davis

1935-2018, she was 82 years old

She is with the Lord

It Was An Excellent Game!

“Underdog Beats Favored Champion

There were five kinds of viewers of last night’s game:

  1. Patriots Fans
  2. Eagles Fans
  3. Football Fans
  4. Socializers
  5. Commercial Watchers 

Some rooted for the Patriots. Some rooted for the Eagles. Some wanted a close, competitive game. Others watched because they were at a party. And some watched to watch the commercials. 

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It was the Super Bowl. 

A Good Game

I thought it was entertaining. It had several lead changes, some fantastic plays, and was close down to the final seconds And my wife had excellent snacks. 

But the underdog beat the favored team. 

The Underdog

There’s just something special about the little guy upsetting the big guy.

In regular life, where the consequences matter, it gets more serious. Both David and Goliath stepped onto the battle field, but only one stepped off, it was the shepherd boy, a huge upset.

We have giants:

  1. competitors
  2. enemies
  3. rivals
  4. setbacks
  5. circumstances 

 How we face our giants may be as important, or even more important, than the outcome.

Jesus Said This

“Blessed are you when insulted and persecuted…” Matthew 5:11

“Be reconciled to your brother.” Matthew 5:24

“Make peace quickly with your adversary,” Matthew 5:25

“If someone strikes you on the cheek, turn to him the other also.” Matthew 5:39

“Love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you.” Matthew 5:44

To Close

It’s not a popular viewpoint. Some say it reeks of cowardice and appeasement. But Jesus taught that loving one another was more important than winning the fight.

Certainly, we should stand for truth or we’ll fall for anything. Conviction is vital. But our  path is one of peace, not the sword. We don’t beat others with clubs, or with the truth, we shouldn’t be beating heads at all.

“Underdog Beats Favored Champion”

Congratulations to the Eagles for upsetting your favored opponent!

But for regular life:

“As much as possible, as far it depends on you, live in peace with everyone.” 

Shalom